Chris McCully

Fishing Diary

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Unprecedented: Of gudgeon, rudd, bream and Kylie Minogue

Saturday, 24 June 2017 at 15:58

Lucky I think Chris Yates writes somewhere that every Lucky Strike comes with innate fish-catching ability - a sort of fluence, born with each rod. Yesterday I said to Monika that it would be good to christen this Lucky - a late model, from the end of the 1960s, probably - by catching some of the species that have so far eluded me on the river. Gudgeon, for instance. In the event, the Lucky and I caught seven different species in one session. It was extraordinary. After catching some chublets on freelined worms - lovely bit of fishing, though I say so myself (nobody else ever will) - I put up the waggler. 'Be nice to catch a roach,' I thought. A fit 10oz. roach duly obliged. 'Be nice to catch a dace.' A dace obliged. 'Nice to catch a perch' (we caught a perch)....' A bream' (we caught a bream).... 'A gudgeon' (this was riding my luck, but we caught a gudgeon - in fact several gudgeons).... 'Er... A rudd?' (and this really was pushing it, because I've only once before glimpsed a rudd on the river). But we caught a rudd, too - and then, for good measure, another rudd. It was all a bit unprecedented. And the while, that silly bloody Kylie song kept sounding in the dim recesses: ...lucky lucky lucky.... (etc.)

Happy June 16th

Friday, 16 June 2017 at 15:03

Opening day Opening day. Off I went with a 4-weight fly-rod. If little roach and dace are your thing then you'd have shared my frustrations: I must have moved twenty...thirty... and brought very few to hand. Best was a roach of around half a pound that took a small, somewhat tubby Black Spider suspended under a murking great Klink. Of the fish I moved and missed, two were respectable chub, and I saw a small (but distant) shoal of really big chub at lunchtime, too. I think I spent more time walking and watching than I did fishing, and that's fine: the whole season's before us.
     So many people said Hello and stopped to chat. It was as if everyone had taken some sort of benevolence drug. Perhaps they had - and if so, I want some. It was altogether heartening and cheering.


Sunday, 11 June 2017 at 11:22

Strawberries I remember writing last year about the full moon of later June, which is known quaintly as the 'strawberry moon'. These tides are a good time to get after bass, though on a short session two evenings ago I caught nothing and saw nothing moving - not even mullet. There was just the remorselessly muddy flood and the fading light; even the terns seemed torpid.

Yet in the garden all is growth. This is the first proper season of our reconstructed and much-worked plot so it's been good to see a smashing crop of strawberries. The raspberries look promising, too, and I may get a few cherries and plums from two trees we planted only last year. I enjoy the seasonal rhythms of the garden almost as much as I enjoy the rhythms of angling engagement: there's connectedness, and hope, and a profound, outwardly-directed attention that's a splendid antidote to a working life filled with continual pressures.

Little bass

Sunday, 4 June 2017 at 20:57

Tiny bass One of half a dozen little bass that took either a shrimp-suggesting pattern (as here) or a streamer. One tiny bass was smaller than the streamer it annexed - which would be the equivalent of me trying to swallow a foal. Two fish were a glorious 9-10 inches....and the miniature size of these fish didn't matter at all. It was enough to be there, in the broken light under a livid sky, with a whole season of bass fishing before us.

Time of the dog-roses

Saturday, 3 June 2017 at 18:25

Wild rose I've missed the river. This afternoon I went for a walk up a well-known reach and found the dog-roses in bloom. Around each bend, and high up in the tree-canopies and their foliage, mayfly spinners were dancing; the near-bank greenery was alive with damsels, dragonflies, libelles; tiny dace sipped at nothings in sky-reflecting pools. I didn't see another soul. It was utterly captivating.

For all that I enjoy trout fishing (and the opening of this season has been, by my modest standards, particularly prolific and exciting), each year I find myself looking forward to June 16th. I rarely fulfil any of the great plans I make to fish the river but find that after all, it doesn't matter. It's often quite enough just to be there, outside, among the familiar and lovely things.

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